“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:1–51, ESV)
The End Of The Age
Jesus leaves the temple, and as he and the disciples make their departure, the disciples point out the massive edifice of the temple. Jesus offers a startling revelation; the temple would be destroyed. This perennial symbol of the presence of God and his covenant people would be destroyed. When they arrive on the Mount of Olives, the disciples come to Jesus privately and ask the obvious question,"When will these things happen?" The disciples also want to know how the will recognize Jesus' return and the signs of the end of the age. Jesus tells the disciples not to be led astray because many would come and make claims about the end. Jesus is the Prophet, and he explains the future. Jesus makes prophecies that would have implications for the present and the future. Wars, famines, and earthquakes will happen, but the follower of Jesus does not have to be alarmed because these are a part of birth pains and more suffering will come. Tribulation, martyrdom, betrayal, false prophets, lawlessness, and a lack of love will point to the fact that the end is nearing but has not yet come.
Jesus makes reference to prophecies of Daniel including the abomination of desolation. Jesus' statement indicates the authority of scripture and the truth that Jesus views the Scripture as reliable and accurate. When one reads about these events, it should be remembered that this prophecy has initial fulfillment and ultimate fulfillment. In the Older Testament, Nathan prophesied that David's offspring would sit on his throne. This had the initial fulfillment in Solomon, but it would also point to the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. The terrible circumstances that are described will find initial fulfillment soon. The tribulation that Jesus speaks of would have fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD but will also come to fruition when the end of the world comes. Jesus also explains that many will try to read the tea leaves and explain exactly how and when the end will come. This is still true today. Many tell us that they have figured out the code for the return of Christ and the end of the world. They will speak of the revelation they have received which accompanied with current events and combined with numerology have allowed them to decipher the second coming of Christ. However, Jesus explains that they are not to be believed because his coming will be swift and unexpected. When Jesus returns, the end will occur simultaneously. The cosmic events will be seen as will the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great glory and power. He will dispatch his angels with a trumpet and gather his own.
His Words, Imperishable
Jesus uses the fig tree as an object lesson. Nature provides the evidence of times and seasons. When certain things are observed in the fig tree, one knows the summer is near. These are indicators for Christians. At this point, one might say that these things are happening now. The king's return is imminent which should bring a sense of expectancy and joy. Jesus' word is certain and will not pass away, unlike the created universe.
No One Knows
Jesus reminds us that the exact time of his return is unknown, which does not contradict the earlier teaching of the chapter, but explains that certain events must first take place. Only God knows the time of the end. When Jesus returns, it will be like the days of Noah. People ignored the warnings until it was too late. Jesus' return will take place during the ordinary activities of life and will cause both disruption and division.
As servants, we must be prepared for the return of our king. A wise master guards against the theft of their property, so we must be ready for the coming of the Son of Man, which will take us by surprise. The faithful and wise servant will be found obeying the commands of the master. The wicked servant pays no attention to the instructions of the master. Delay causes them to think that the master will not return and woe to that servant that is found walking in disobedience. The consequences will be swift and severe. Judgment and death are the results of the life spent in disobedience. Live a holy life. Love others. Be ready.